Tinny strains of amplified music announced the coming 'ordeal'; the bathroom door swung open; the slightly distorted twang of Mid-eastern instruments clamored in.

Simon, wriggling with embarrassment, tried not to look. But, upon seeing Brandy veiled, composed, and bejeweled in the bathroom door frame—clad in silk, copper coins, and layer upon layer of ornate finery—all he managed to express was an awestruck gape.

It seemed an impossible entrance to accomplish unaffectedly, yet, against all odds, Brandy was doing just that, primarily with her eyes… which looked, as they peered out over a diaphanous veil, enormous, an extravagant makeup heightening their green-eyed allure, their expression at once aloof and coolly confidential, their invitation to 'partake' countermanded by an implicit 'do not touch.' She held this pose just long enough to impart its equivocal message—and for Simon’s worst presentiments to take their leave.

Finger cymbals chimed. An anxious rattle rose from loins bedecked with beads—which chattered hauntingly (like teeth against the grip of a chill desert night). Scent, mixed with incense, drifted from under Brandy's garments. She appeared to hold perfectly still, yet the rattle persisted… spread... distracting Simon’s attention, evidently; when he looked up from the beads her position had changed. The rattle climbed to her breasts (enveloped by baubles)—oscillating orbs like twin full moons. Again she changed position—arresting him who gazed at every alteration: fabric to flesh, shawl unfurling from limb to bracelet-manacled limb, silk drawn taut then limp then taut as her torso tensed, its muscles in compliance with the music's pent-up energy.

Striking another pose (Simon again missed the transition), Brandy held her breath—and his—for a moment's hesitation.

Suddenly the pace was brisk, ebullient, unreserved! Her body shook with accelerated vigor, breasts pitched side to side, shoulders flexed, her belly like some totally independent beast—quivering, rippling, quaking, its dimple a deep indentation, its palpitating pith of flesh-tones all a blur—as jewelry glistened, refracted the yellow lamplight, splintered it through the room in mirror-ball beams of gilt… of silver:

slender coils girding upper arms,
sinuously constricting;
cascades of delicate chain
enslaving her ribcage;
a tiny scarab,
set in her forehead,
twinkling with age-old enchantment.

Simon sat enthralled by the dancer’s level gaze—which guided his attention whenever, wherever it pleased:

down the length of her ultra-supple torso…
round and round
(with the provocative bump and grind)
of abundant hips…
up to a bellows-like diaphragm
back to the emerald glint
of her prepossessing eyes.

Then, with an artful gesture, she let fall her veil… which drifted, in a pliant faint, toward her gracefully tapered ankles.

The dance raced ahead:

she stooped and floated,

pranced and frolicked,

lost herself in a fury,

yet maintained strict command,

the rhythm coming, of a sudden, to an unexpected halt…

or a pause…

during which she knelt,

bowed her head,

then brought her chest to the floor,

its contours flattening,

arms outstretched like the wings

of a mantling bird…

until slowly,

almost laboriously,

the music recommenced.

Yanked as by some unseen drawstring, Brandy rose at the waist, bent over backwards, pinned her shoulders to the floor—her midriff jutting, her compact bust transformed into oblong spheres:

a wave passed through her abdomen…



rippling north to south,

then rippling in reverse,

as each traversed the naked length and breadth

of her palpitating belly,

all in perfect time to the music's pulsing drone.

Thighs thrust forward, spine sprung erect, Brandy leaned left to right like a breeze-blown palm tree…


with nimble facility,

she rocked back to her feet.

The tempo quickened. Coins collided as she shimmied energetically. Perfume spread in wafts with every skirt-flared spin. Smiling at him now (with eyes alone) Brandy moved as if gravity itself had lost its jurisdiction; her bare feet scarcely touched the ruddy Spanish tile, as she glided, twisted, swirled, twirled, gyrated, then crossed for one last time to the bathroom's darkened door...

finger cymbals crashed;

a final pose was struck…


as if by magic,

she abruptly disappeared.

Simon burst into a round of spontaneous applause, clapping his hands as thunderously as a single spectator could.

Brandy swept back in, out of breath and glistening, drops of perspiration like sequins on her lightly freckled skin.

"Did you really like it?"

Simon stood, continuing his ovation. Brandy started to leave but he caught her by the elbow. He wanted to speak, to tell her—right out loud—how wonderfully she had danced.

Interpreting his intent, she humbly replied…

"You’re welcome."

… then slipped from Simon's grasp and beelined into the bathroom.

Once there, the imprudence of performing on a full stomach prompted a commotion that would not quit. Brandy shed her costume just before the first eruption overwhelmed her and chicken cacciatore (now thoroughly pulverized) ushered its confederates into the commode.

Devoid of all three courses, she leaned back, slumped, and tried to stifle a should-have-known-better groan.



It was getting late.

back to Table of Contents